Medical school acceptance rates can be used to help you craft your school list and inform which schools you should apply to, but they can also be intimidating. Naturally, seeing that a medical school you have your heart set on attending only has an acceptance rate of 1 or 2% is discouraging. Is your application really better than 98% of other applicants? However, acceptance rates do not tell the whole story, and there are plenty of other factors to consider.
In this post, we break down medical school acceptance rates, including how many applicants get into medical school, how to understand them, and how to best utilize acceptance rates to make informed decisions.
How Many Applicants Get Into Medical School?
According to applicant data released by the AAMC, 55,188 people applied to medical school during the 2022 application cycle, sending out an average of 18 applications each, which means 990,790 applications were sent out across the United States. 22,712 applicants successfully matriculated. This means 41% of applicants earned a medical school acceptance in 2022.
This is higher than last year, in large part due to the fact there were so many more applications last year due to people holding back their application in 2020.
US Medical School Total Applicants by Sex 2018-2021 (AAMC Data)
|Change From Prior Year
|Change From Prior Year
As you can see from the data, the COVID-19 pandemic greatly affected applicant rates, with many applicants—especially women—waiting to apply in 2020 until the following cycle in 2021.
Medical School Acceptance Rates
Acceptance rates vary from one school to the next and are based on a number of different factors, which include the number of students applying to the program, the competitiveness of the program, and if you’re applying in-state or out-of-state, as priority is given to local students.
Harvard Medical School, an Ivy League school with one of the most prestigious reputations around, received 7796 applications and admitted 164, which means their acceptance rate was 2.1% in 2022.
Stanford School of Medicine had an acceptance rate of 1.1% in 2022. Of the 8409 applicants, 499 received interviews, and 90 received an acceptance.
The University of Virginia School of Medicine received 5892 total applications, invited 568 applicants to interview, and accepted 150 matriculants. This means their acceptance rate was 2.5%.
On the other hand, the Medical College of Georgia (Augusta University) received 3563 applications and accepted 264 students, which means their acceptance rate was 7.4%. However, of those accepted, it must be noted that 97.7% of accepted applicants were in-state applicants. So while their acceptance rate is technically higher than the other schools mentioned, if you’re applying out-of-state, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll be accepted to the Medical College of Georgia.
How to Utilize Acceptance Rates
1 | Acceptance Rates Help to Craft Your School List
Acceptance rates signal the competitiveness of medical schools.
If you’re an exceptional candidate with a stellar GPA and MCAT score and plenty of research and clinical experience under your belt, acceptance rates do not need to be your main focus. If, however, you have a couple of significant weak areas on your application, acceptance rates do become a more important consideration.
We recommend you apply to 20 medical schools—a mix of safety, target, and reach schools. Acceptance rates, along with MCAT scores and GPA, can help you determine where each medical school fits on your list. Harvard Medical School is somewhat of a reach even for extremely qualified candidates. Johns Hopkins is also quite competitive, as their acceptance rate in 2022 was 1.9%.
Less prestigious medical programs located in your own state are a good idea to include in your safety schools, as most medical programs favor in-state applicants, which we’ll touch on below.
So, where can you find all of this information? The MSAR (Medical School Admissions Requirements) is an invaluable resource that enables you to search, sort, and compare information about medical schools in the US and Canada for MD programs. It covers the median GPA and MCAT scores of matriculants, the number of in-state or out-of-state matriculants, teaching methodologies, tuition and fees, the number of students in the first year class, the format of interviews, and more.
2 | Pay Attention to In-State vs. Out-of-State Rates
When you’re looking at the numbers, in-state vs. out-of-state matters. For example, medical schools in Texas only accept a maximum of 10% of out-of-state applicants. If you have your heart set on Texas medical schools, but you’re not from and don’t live in Texas, it’s highly unlikely you will be accepted. It’s possible, of course, but know that your chances are quite slim if you’re applying out-of-state.
On the flip side, if you’re from or currently live in Texas, take a good long look at Texas medical schools, as their in-state preference definitely works in your favor.
If you’re considering applying to Texas schools, you’ll need to use a different application service. Learn all you need to know with our TMDSAS Application Guide for Texas Medical Schools.
Many medical schools favor in-state applicants, so it’s important to consider this when deciding if you want to apply to schools outside your home state.
However, this is not always the case. Take Stanford, for example. While their acceptance rate was a mildly terrifying 1.1% in 2022, 73.3% of their matriculants were out-of-state applicants.
Do your research. Acceptance rates can certainly help you craft your school list, but in-state vs. out-of-state acceptance rates are just as vital to consider.
3 | Beyond Acceptance Rates, Fit Matters
Determining school fit is another area where the MSAR becomes your best friend. It will provide you with detailed information about demographics, teaching methodologies, campus life, and more, so you can build a reliable picture of how you will fit at the school.
Do you like the sound of how they approach medical education or not? Do you like that the school focuses on research, or do you want to make sure you’re in the clinic as much as possible? Do you have a preference for how you are graded? Do you have a specific class size in mind or learning environment you prefer?
This requires a great deal of research. Utilize the MSAR, but dig deep into the school website and online forums. If you’re really interested in a specific program, seek out current students or graduates and ask them about their experience. Most medical students will be eager to share their advice and insight.
You could be one of the most qualified candidates in your year, but if you learn best in small classes or already have a specific specialty in mind, you will fit better in some programs than others. Therefore, not securing an interview at a school could have more to do with how the admissions committee believes you will fit within the program and not your ample qualifications.
While acceptance rates are important to consider, they are far from the only factor that will help you determine if you’ll excel in a specific program.
4 | Don’t Allow Acceptance Rates to Scare You
Low acceptance rates should not dissuade you from applying to the schools you’re most interested in attending. Acceptance rates are a useful data point, but they do lack important context, such as school fit. Plus, school popularity is going to play a big factor in its acceptance rate. The acceptance rate isn’t just how many people get in; it’s based on how many people applied.
It’s possible that a medical school in your state without worldwide renown could have a lower acceptance rate than Harvard. This is because more people applied believing they had a better chance there than Harvard.
While acceptance rates are a valuable introductory point to determining relative competitiveness of schools, you must dig deeper and not dismiss yourself from applying because of a low acceptance rate. Individual average acceptance rates across all schools is still a dismal 5% but these numbers lack context.
Choose schools based on how well you believe you will fit, not on their acceptance rates. You are not the average applicant, regardless of how you may feel. Your priorities, values, and preferred method of learning is unique, and there is a program out there that shares your learning style, values, and priorities. You just need to find it.
Choosing the Best Program for You
Med School Insiders will help you choose the medical schools that are best for you. We can also help you improve your application in order to get noticed by your top choice schools. Learn more about our Comprehensive Medical School Admissions Packages, which are tailored to your needs and the specific schools you are applying to.
Read our Guide to Understanding the Medical School Application Process, which includes what you need to include in your application, mistakes to avoid, an application timeline, and what happens next.